Chapter 12: Hollow Ground
****THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS 18+ CONTENT. LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE, BLOOD, GORE. VIEWERS DISCRETION ADVISED****
“Look at this fine piece, me lads! Looks like we get to have some fun tonight!” one of the men with blood on his sword sneered.
Tidas glared daggers at the man who had cut his leg. While two had attacked his front and side, that guy had lunged at his back. It was a cheap move, but effective. Tidas’ movements were now limited. He racked his brain for a way to save Skye, but only one thing came to mind.
He would have to tap into his life force and use his speed to get Skye to safety. Dying didn’t bother him, so long as Skye was safe. But he had fought these past few years to get back to her. Risking everything to be with her.. So they really were going to have to kill him to keep Skye from him. As the men stared at his betrothed, Tidas lunged at the one closest to him. Running his sword through the nomad’s back, and into the his heart.
The man screamed out in pain before falling over. The others realized what had happened, and move to run Tidas through all at once. Skye ripped the cap off the water pouch and threw it to the ground. She squeezed the water out into the air with her right while holding her left hand palm up.
The droplets of water hung in the air above Skye’s head. The afternoon sun shined through them, casting a rainbow around her. Everything in the forest froze at the mystical scene. Skye’s power pulsated through the water; using it to break the droplets into smaller ones before willing them into the shapes of needles.
“Take one more step towards me man, and ye will Never be able to see daylight again. Or have children.. I do have rather good aim,” Skye threatened with a chilling smile.
Every man’s jaw swung low with his shock; Tidas in particular. The clear fact that Skye was a magic user was astounding enough. But what was truly shocking was what type.. Skye was the rarest: an Elemental.
‘And a Water manipulator at that!’
There had only been a dozen or so in all of Alcon’s history. Most common born to Alcon were Earth Elementals. But that was still rare in and of itself. It was one of the most coveted powers in the world next to Ether magic.
‘How could I not’ve known?! How did she know how to use her powers? Did.. Did she just make needles out of water?! What the bloody hell?’ Tidas’ brain nearly fried itself before the man who sliced his leg earlier spoke.
“And what do ye plan to do with those, lil’ lassie? Sprinkle us with yer fairy dust?” the man sneered.
“Why don’t ye take a step and find out what me ‘fairy dust’ will do,” Skye replied with a snarky smile.
The nomad lost his jovial laughter and replaced it with a cold smile before rebutting, “Oh, Ima have a lotta fun breakin’ ye in, sweetness.. After I kill yer man. Grab the bitch and hold her down to watch!” 𝚒𝚗𝒏𝐫e𝒶𝙙. 𝒸o𝑚
The nomad nodded at the two men closest to Skye. They turn to walk towards her, but Tidas made a shallow swing and cut the back of the one closest to him. He bellowed his pain before retreating over by a younger man. The other went to swing his sword down on Tidas, but instantly frozen mid-swing. He coughed once: deep red blood trickling out his mouth and down his chin before he fell over. Almost landing on Tidas in the process.. His entire backside was now soaked with water and blood.
Skye had mostly aimed for his neck. She had become quite a capable hunter with her power. Her father has been astounded when she would bring home everything from rabbits, to stags. The cooks had questioned her once when she’d forgotten to wedge arrows into the shot holes. But she had played dumb rather convincingly..
Explaining that, she had ‘washed the wound’ to attempt to clean the carcass herself, but chickened out. They accepted her excuse; much to Skye’s relief.
The hole in the back of the nomad’s neck could probably fit an axe in it. Skye had intentionally focused on the area to prevent the man from completing his swing. The bone from his spine was exposed due to the sheer force. She had pulverized the spot; making it look almost polished. In her unspoken alarm to save Tidas, however; Skye used up all her ammo on the single man. While her face remained impassive, panic began to seep in.
The prince locked eyes with Skye and saw her fear. The other nomads stood and stared at the man’s dead body in shock. Seeing his moment, Tidas tapped into his life force. He scooped up Skye in his arms like before, and headed into the forest at top speed.
Tidas’ body screamed at him. His leg wound ripped wider from his exertion. His chest felt like it was going to cave in along with his other organs. His heart hammered hard, but the beat was slowing. He started to feel dizzy after just a minute. When a familiar mark on a tree caught his eye, he stopped as gently as he could. The prince didn’t want his momentum sending Skye flying into a tree, but he was fading fast.
In an instant, Tidas had lost his footing. He wrenched his body so that when they fell, his side and back would take the brunt of it. He grunted painfully from the impact as Skye yelped in fear. They slid a good three feet or so across the forest floor before almost slamming into a tree. As soon as they’d stopped moving, Skye rolled off of Tidas and had begun to check him.
His arm wasn’t too bad, but the gashes on his back, and especially his leg, were in serious trouble. Skye was shocked his tendons weren’t damaged. But she could see them clearly just looking at his calf, which made her want to scream.
‘Don’t flip out, don’t flip out! Stop the bleeding, stop the bleeding!’ she repeated in her head to stay focused.
Sky ripped the bottom of her dress and both her sleeves off. She scanned her surroundings for water and sighed with relief. There was a small stream right next to the tree that they’d nearly crashed into. She willed the water to her; making a thin, steady stream flow over the pieces of fabric to clean them slightly. Then she directed the stream over Tidas’ wounds. He flinched slightly, but other than that, you couldn’t really tell that he was alive.
Skye quickly wrapped up the prince’s wounds before rolling him onto his backside. He was breathing hard, and had become very pale. Beads of cold sweat broke out across his whole body. Skye gently lifted his head up, and placed it on her folded legs. She looked down at Tidas with undeniable fear.
‘If he hadn’t of smacked Thoth, the idiot would’ve never gotten hurt! But no! He had to be the hero! Stupid, stupid, stupid!’ Skye railed at Tidas in her head.
A single tear fell onto Tidas’ forehead. Skye knew it came from her, but she didn’t want to acknowledge it. She’d rather be furious than scared.. Scared!
It had just dawned on Skye that the Nomads were probably following them. The trail of broken branches and footprints Tidas had made would be easy to follow. She felt the panic rising in herself as she thought about what to do. Thoth would’ve been handy about now, but he would’ve stayed by the edge of the forest where Skye had dismounted. She was going to have to make something to carry Tidas on, but that wasn’t a solution for now.
Skye racked her brain as the tiny stream she’d made fell to the ground due to her preoccupation. She turned her head in just enough time to see it collapse and splatter. The splash triggered a conclusion: she would have to fight. Moving Tidas would take time, and the nomads would find them soon. Tidas was only able to gain just under a mile’s distance from them before they fell. The noise they’d made when falling had been loud. At the least, it would’ve given away their direction.
‘Hang on.. Did Tidas stop for a reason? I felt him slow before we fell.. WAIT!’ Skye’s attention immediately went from her thoughts, to the stream, then up to the tree.
‘This is it! OUR tree! Tidas must’ve seen one of our old trail markers! That’s why he stopped!’ Skye almost dropped Tidas’ head in her excitement.
She set the prince’s head down gently, then got up and walked about the tree. On the other side of it was their hollow. It was covered by the long, wispy branches, causing her to almost overlook it. Skye was so excited that she’d nearly missed the fact that it was clean.
‘And is that... food in it?!’
Perplexed by the situation, the lass almost didn’t hear the hushed voices, and crunching of leaves getting closer. Not wasting any time, Skye grabbed Tidas from under his armpits, and dragged him to their hollow.
It was smaller than she remembered.. Tall inside, but not very wide. Tidas fit in well enough to be hidden from sight once she removed his sword. The branches covering the entrance would provide plenty of camouflage as well.
After she packed Tidas inside, Skye cupped his handsome cheek; “Ima wee bit angry with ye for runnin’ me off before. I understand yer intentions behind it.. But hear me Now, Tidas MacArthur. Ima No damsel in distress! And Ima gonna proven it to ye now..”
The crunching of leaves and twigs was getting louder. Skye smiled at her pale prince before placing a soft kiss on his sweaty forehead. She leaned in and whispered in his ear before leaving. After adjusting the branches to cover up the hollow again, she grabbed his sword, and walked back around to the other side.
Skye set the sword by the edge of the stream in case she needed it. She turned back and looked down at the stream with determination in her eyes. She removed her shoes, and stepped into the water. It was cold and stung her skin, but the fact barely registered. Skye focused her power; channeling it through her feet and out into the water. Laughter erupted from the Nomads as they saw the little lass waiting for them.
Skye’s mind was as clear and cold as the water at her feet. Her heartbeat was steady, but her senses where in overdrive. She smiled brightly as the men came to stand before her. Right where she wanted them..
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